Three public defenders arrested outside club

By Ryan Sabalow
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Three Shasta County deputy public defenders were arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of starting a drunken ruckus with police officers at a Redding bar.

District Attorney Jerry Benito said the incident started when police responded to a report of a man, later identified as Peter Patrick Ahart, 23, of Williams urinating in the parking lot of Club 151, a nightclub on Bechelli Lane.

A police dispatch report lists the time around 12:45 a.m.

When police confronted Ahart, his older brother, Joseph Michael Ahart, 29, and his two colleagues from the Shasta County Public Defender's Office, Michael Caleb Borges, 27, and Amy Margaret Babbits, 30, came out of the bar, Benito said.

A disturbance ensued and two of the attorneys, Borges and Babbits, were arrested on suspicion of obstructing an officer and being drunk in public, Benito said.

The two Ahart brothers were arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public.

Redding Police Capt. Paul Grooms referred all questions about the arrests to Benito’s office.

Benito said that the case had just been filed by police and he had yet to fully examine specifics of the reports.

The three attorneys are scheduled to be arraigned on the misdemeanor charges in June, Benito said.

Although the county’s human resources department has begun a disciplinary investigation, Joseph Ahart, Borges and Babbits were in court on Monday defending clients, Public Defender Neal Pereira said.

“Until the personnel investigation is concluded, they will be working — unless there’s good cause proving they shouldn’t be,” Pereira said.

The minimum monthly salary of an entry-level public defender in Shasta County is $4,640, according to the Shasta County Human Resources department Web site.

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at .

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